Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Enchanted Island of Oz

From the diary: “July 2, 1981

“I began to feel really awful [night before last]. We had run out of vitamin C tablets so I couldn’t discreetly gobble them until my symptoms went away (as they usually do when I take lots of vitamin C), so I decided to go to bed early. I got in bed at about 11:00pm (nowadays, for me, that’s early!) It was a disaster! I went to sleep in a short time, but about two hours later I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. The documentaries I watched before I went to bed danced through my mind and corrupted themselves over and over until all I could think about was this trashy story of a male/female mountain climbing team braving the steep side of Yosemite’s Half Dome to photograph snakes and water buffalo crossing a river. What were the two documentaries? Lights! Action! Africa!, a film about two wildlife photographers (husband & wife) and what they did to get their magnificent photos. The other was Free Climb, a movie about two young men who free climbed the steep side of Half Dome.

“When I could stand this bizarre mixture … no longer and decided without a shadow of a doubt that I would get no sleep until I got my mind on something else I got up. I finished reading The Enchanted Island of Oz sitting in the rocking chair in the living room. I then lay down on the couch and got to sleep. All-in-all I suppose I got about four hours of sleep.”

The Enchanted Island of Oz is by Ruth Plumly Thompson. It was published by the International Wizard of Oz Club in 1976. L. Frank Baum’s publisher issued 40 Oz books by seven authors -- 14 by Baum, 19 by Thompson, 3 by Neill, 2 by Snow, 1 by Rachel Cosgrove, and 1 by Eloise McGraw and her daughter Lauren McGraw. The Oz Club was founded in 1957, six years before the McGraws’ book was published. After Merry-go-round in Oz Reilly & Lee decided not to do another Oz book. The Oz Club issued two new Ruth Plumly Thompson titles, Yankee in Oz (1972) and The Enchanted Island of Oz. Eventually other publishers got into the act, especially as Baum’s books passed out of copyright.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Magical Mimics in Oz

From the diary: “June 29, 1981

“I’m reading The Magical Mimics in Oz. I’m almost done reading the series! I can’t wait to get more.”

There are fourteen books between Giant Horse and Magical Mimics. Unless I just didn’t mention them in my diary I didn’t yet have them. Fourteen! Ruth Plumly Thompson wrote nineteen Oz books before she retired from the series. John R. Neill, who had illustrated all but the first book, then wrote three books. I didn’t have any of his and I was most curious to see how he handled Oz. Jack Snow was an old Oz fan. He wrote his books as direct sequels to Baum’s. No Thompson or Neill invented characters appeared in The Magical Mimics in Oz or The Shaggy Man of Oz. The Shaggy Man was a hobo, a wanderer who loved the road. Baum used the Shaggy Man several times. I don’t think Thompson or Neill used him at all.

The Mimics of the title are throwbacks to the sinister armies that threatened Oz in Baum’s Emerald City of Oz. A Mimic falls upon his victim and becomes him, leaving the original startled and paralyzed, staring back at himself. Jack Snow also wrote scary stories for adults, some of which have been collected in Spectral Snow, which I ought to own if I don’t.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


From the diary: “June 17, 1981

“[Yesterday] was mainly uneventful. I sat around the house and read Tintins all day.”

I remember seeing a Tintin book for the first time at the house of a friend of my mother. The book was hardcover, which surprised me – a hardcover comic? And the art was so much more precise and delicate than I was used to seeing in superhero or funny animal comics. I was fascinated by the cover of The Black Island, the black island in the distance, the somber colors of sea and sky, the youth and his white dog in the small boat – but the bright red skirt of the youth struck me. This may have been the first time I saw a kilt. The book may have been in the original French because I vaguely remember not being able to read it – not that we had the time on that visit. I do remember leafing through the pages wishing I could read it.

I don’t know how much time passed before we found Tintin in the bookstore. The Tintin website has the first American edition of The Black Island published in 1975. I think we bought our first Tintin not long after.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Hungry Tiger of Oz

From the diary: “May 28, 1981

“I finished The Hungry Tiger of Oz. Am reading The Giant Horse of Oz.”

The Ruth Plumly Thompson Oz books were all out of print at this time but I was buying them as fast as I could find them (and could afford them). In this run of reading Oz I assume I had not yet found a copy of Grampa in Oz or The Lost King of Oz, the two books published between Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger. I was looking forward to Lost King because Thompson offered an explanation to what happened to Ozma’s father, King Pastoria. I had a low opinion of The Hungry Tiger of Oz as Thompson seemed to indulge her penchant for amusing little countries (usually based on puns) that seem to hurl themselves like big rubber balls in the way of the heroes who are just trying to get from point A to point B, darnit.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The story so far

On February 25th I wrote my first post to this blog. I’ve been keeping a booklog since 1989 and it seemed to me a weblog would be a good way to make use of it. I cautioned that what I’d written in my booklog was not reviews but writing as an aid to memory. In starting the booklog originally I didn’t want to announce Recommendations or critically evaluate, or anyway I didn’t want to make that a requirement for the writing. I did think about training myself to review books, as one can make money reviewing (one can’t make money with poems). But I thought I’d see if I could get myself into the habit of talking about each book I read as I went along and if I developed a critical stance that was something I might be able to take advantage of in other contexts. If not, as I said, the booklog at least would offer a prophylactic against amnesia.

My notes on books these days do tend toward the critical, the evaluative, but I still don’t try to hold them to the standards an audience would expect. I talk about the books in the context of my life and what a book means to me. It’s still private writing.

Thinking on that I decided to return to my earliest private writing, my first attempt at a daily journal, the one I wrote at for a couple months in sixth grade. Did I write about books in that? Indeed I did.

Visiting the sixth grade Glenn was surprisingly painless, especially since I wasn’t reading for his story but exploring a reference. What did Glenn read next? We don’t have written evidence from a convenient source until the diary starts up again in high school. (And if you read that post you’ll have to visit its sequel.) I’m still working my way through that high school journal. In one month of blog I’ve covered about five months of journal. At this pace it’ll be how long until I get to the 1989 booklog?

Some of these blog postings are rather bare. Still private writing? Probably. But I’m going to let that be okay. This blog may be publicly accessible and I’m happy to have anyone come by and read it but like many blogs it’s a hybrid, public and private. I’m exploring my life in books. Come along if that amuses you.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Waving the Stick Around

I watched the Stick as it was handed around the poetry blogs. I’m not one of the popular kids so I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t pass to me. Only it did. Ginger waved it in my direction. I can’t say as I care much for the questions, nor do I care a fig for chain letters or forwarding clever stuff to all my friends, but the Stick is about what you’re reading and so is Dare I Read? so wtf. (By the way technorati shows 305 blogs have answered the questions so far. Maybe more by the time I post.)

the Stick: You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

dir: Goodnight, Moon

the Stick: Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

dir: I kept thinking I hadn’t but then I realized I have a big crush right now on Jaeger Ayers, the hero of Carla Speed McNeil’s comic series Finder. He is so dreamy. Then there was Kurt Severing of Jason Lutes’ Berlin. I was so disappointed he was straight!

the Stick: The last book you bought is:

dir: Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man by John Porcellino

the Stick: The last book you read:

dir: Rio de Janeiro: Carnival Under Fire by Ruy Castro

the Stick: What are you currently reading?

dir: Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man by John Porcellino, Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, The Random House Book of Twentieth-Century French Poetry edited by Paul Auster, Pulling Taffy by Matt Bernstein Sycamore, and Finder: Sin-Eater, volume 2 by Carla Speed McNeil.

the Stick: Five books you would take to a deserted island:

dir: One wonders whether one is marooned, thus these five would be the only books one will ever have resort to, or whether it’s just a nice island where there’s nothing to do but read.

If the former I’d start with a book of matches.

If the latter I’d start with Proust, include a fat Dickens, bring along Rothenberg’s 2-volume Poems for the Millennium (I’m currently halfway through volume one), choose an Oz book I’ve only read once (Handy Mandy in Oz maybe), and finish up with a good book on the constellations so I can stargaze less obliviously.

the Stick: Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons)? And Why?

Skook, because he reads a lot, too
CDPlayer, because she needs to blog more and here’s an excuse
Taze Files, I don’t know him but I like the way he writes about books

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Pearl

From the diary: “May 28, 1981

“In English we are reading The Pearl. Very short book.”

John Steinbeck. I do remember liking The Pearl. Maybe one of the reasons I chose to write a paper on Steinbeck. I thought I’d written the paper in my sophomore year but I don’t mention it in this diary and I remember this particular paper because it was a traumatic event. I had to write according to a strict formula and I’m just horrid about strict formulas. (I haven’t attempted a sonnet in years.) I expect my writing to grow and change as it grows, more like tending a plant than building an outhouse.

I save everything and I recall coming across the Steinbeck paper a couple years after graduation and reading it. It was the stiffest, ugliest writing I’ve ever produced. Somehow I got a B+. I save everything, but I threw this one away.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Cowardly Lion of Oz

From the diary: “May 18, 1981

“It rained today. How strange. The weather forecast is getting warmer though. Jeez! I don’t know if I can stand it any warmer.

“I read The Cowardly Lion of Oz thru to the end.”

This page has thumbnails of the covers of all the Oz books. The Cowardly Lion looks really meek on the cover of The Cowardly Lion of Oz, not just meek, cowering. Typically the Cowardly Lion is depicted, both in the text and the illustrations, as proud and courageous, nonchalant at least. “Cowardly” is meant ironically.

When an Oz book was named after a familiar character I always expected the story to revolve around that character. This was not always the case. In The Scarecrow of Oz the Scarecrow himself doesn’t show up until the book is, what, 50% through? Like Tik-Tok of Oz the book named after the Scarecrow is adapted from one of Baum’s nonbook Oz efforts. In the case of Scarecrow Baum translates to the page a silent movie he directed, His Majesty, the Scarecrow.

Funny the things you find on the web. Here is a breakdown the plot of The Cowardly Lion of Oz:
Composition of Book
Descript. of chases or violence - 20%
planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives - 20%
Feelings, relationships, character bio/development - 10%
Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places - 50%

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Tumbleweeds Express

From the diary: “May 17, 1981

“I bought the new IAsfm and Tumbleweeds Express.”

I only vaguely remember Tumbleweeds. It wasn’t a regular strip in the newspaper when I was a little kid but maybe it turned up in The Press Democrat at this time. I must’ve thought it funny, huh? The drawings are not to my taste now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Great American Amusement Parks

From the diary: “May 2, 1981

“We went to [the] Santa Rosa [library] and I checked out The Great American Amusement Parks by Gary Kyriazi. I’m thinking of buying it. I read the whole thing today – it was great.”

My father had invited me to go to the big air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I don’t think he owned a plane at the time but he used to and loved planes and flying. Me? Not so much. Still, it sounded like a bit of an adventure and I was hoping to convince him to take me to an amusement park on the trip because I loved roller coasters (still do) and my mother didn’t do amusement parks.

I’ve read several amusement park histories and guidebooks.

From the diary: “May 6, 1981

“I found an article in Campus Life called ‘Theme Parks – Scream Parks.’ It was good up until they started predicting what the future would bring. They started babbling about EPCOT, space stations, and educational parks. I did learn two things of interest from the article though. They were: 6 flags o’er teck’s ass has a new roller coaster in which the train hangs below the tracks, and Marriott’s G[reat] A[merica] in Gurnee, Ill. has a new wooden twin racer coaster called ‘The American Eagle.’”

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Teenage Survival Manual

From the diary: “April 28, 1981

“Last night I started writing another Oz story (A Tale of Oz). I was inspired after reading The Teenage Survival Manual. Dad sent it to us because it echoes some of his philosophies.”

Dad was a big one for philosophies. I remember the cover of the Manual, blue with a swirl of stars. I remember thinking it would give me some secret, some Dad secret. I went through many a self-help book over the years. It’s not that compendia of advice don’t contain helpful advice, but being able to push forth and do is far more important than the excellence of the advice. Yes, the first requirement is to have that assertive personality. Which I didn’t much have. And an ability to shrug off failure. If I had this ability it was withered and virtually paralyzed. Different now?

Dad, by the way, did not live with us. Growing up, though there were phone calls and letters, I only saw him at most twice a year. So he was more than usually mysterious, as fathers go.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bill Hoest

From the diary: “April 26, 1981

“I went to town and bought the new IAsfm and two books by Bill Hoest: Agatha Crumm and The Lockhorns: “I See You Burned the Coldcuts Again.”

The Lockhorns? Good God. I bought a collection of Lockhorns cartoons? I bought them new? Weren’t clippings from PARADE good enough?

I do find the “burned the coldcuts” line rather funny. But a book full of variations on the theme? I don’t even remember seeing these on the shelf. Maybe I sold ‘em to the used bookstore to feed my Oz habit.

I remember catching Joan Rivers when she was filling in for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show and she was cruel. I laughed so hard. Reading a few Lockhorns cartoons I want to laugh, sort of. This wouldn't be the first time I made choice A because I wanted to want choice A, even though choice A and I were not a good match. Eh? (Then again, maybe Bill Hoest wrote better when he was alive.)

IAsfm = Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine ... The only part of Asimov’s I read consistently was Asimov’s introductory essay. But I did like the idea of being able to read all those science fiction stories fresh and new. I read Barry B. Longyear’s “Enemy Mine” as a novella in IAsfm, long before it was made into a movie starring Lou Gossett Jr as a hermaphroditic reptilian humanoid from another planet. I was thinking I’d read the original “Ender’s Game” in IAsfm but it was in Analog, which I also bought regularly for awhile. Did I even read one story in every issue of either magazine? I think I didn’t. But they charmed me as objects.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Library book sale

From the diary: “April 25, 1981

“I went down to the library’s book sale. I’m sure they check through all the books to see if any are valuable before they put them up for sale. I bought The War Against the Rull by A.E. Van Vogt, Burnt Offerings, (both book club editions) and Elephant Bill, a book about a man who lived with elephants in Burma (wherever that is).”

Indeed I discovered that members of the Friends of the Library had an evening to pick over the donations before they were offered to the general public. There was rarely much that interested me. The pickings are better here in Berkeley than they ever were in Sebastopol or Santa Rosa. It helps to live in a city and one with a big university, too.

I never did read the Van Vogt novel (do I still have it?), though I did get to the other two.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Kabumpo in Oz

From the diary: “April 15, 1981

“I’m stuck on Kabumpo in Oz. Since we’ve been in Easter vacation I should get back to reading.”

Kabumpo is an elephant, one of new Oz author Ruth Plumly Thompson’s strongest originals. Thompson’s Oz is quite different from Baum’s. I didn’t like it at first. Thompson is much more about action and wordplay than the more leisurely Baum, and she favors boy protagonists (Baum’s were nearly all girls). But she can be funny and clever; her stories will plunge ahead ever anxious to keep moving.

On a grammar note: I always wondered why the title has Kabumpo in Oz when Kabumpo seems to be a native of Oz and is never anywhere but Oz. In the titles of most other Oz books when the individual is from or of Oz that’s reflected in the title, viz. Tik-Tok of Oz or Glinda of Oz. When a character isn’t a native but merely visiting they’re given the “in”, examples being Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (this was before either had moved to Oz permanently, although the Wizard is invited to stay at the end of the story), Rinkitink in Oz (although, oddly, Rinkitink never actually sets foot in Oz so this may not be a particularly helpful example), and Pirates in Oz. Saying Kabumpo was in Oz, it’s always seemed to me, was redundant for where else would he be?

As an aside, I’ve pledged I shall never write a letter to the editor about such a trivial matter. Should I go to the trouble I shall address something worth the energy -- torture, say, or destruction of habitat.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Royal Book of Oz

From the diary: “March 16, 1981

“I started reading The Royal Book of Oz today.”

The Royal Book of Oz is the first non-Baum Oz book. The publishers recruited Ruth Plumly Thompson, a newspaper writer, to produce new Oz books. She turned out an Oz book a year for nineteen years. In Royal Book the Scarecrow returns to his “family tree,” the stick in the cornfield from which Dorothy helped him down in The Wizard of Oz. The Scarecrow wants to know how he came to be alive. Other non-meat creatures have origin stories – the Tin Woodman was a meat person but a wicked witch enchanted his ax causing it to cut off parts of his body, the missing parts were replaced with tin until the woodman was entirely tin; the Patchwork Girl was a dummy sewn out of a patchwork quilt until the Powder of Life was sprinkled on her. But the Scarecrow was alive when Dorothy met him and new Oz historian Thompson decided to provide an explanation. It seems the Scarecrow is the reincarnation of Chang Wang Woe of the Silver Islands which lie deep beneath the land of Oz, Chang’s spirit having fled up the pole to animate the Scarecrow.

It still strikes me as an odd idea. The Scarecrow is a pseudo-Chinese emperor?

The Royal Book of Oz is the last book mentioned in the diary, 1/1/81 thru 4/14/81.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


From the diary: “March 10, 1981

“We did oral reports in English today and yesterday based on our nonfiction book reports. I did mine on HOTLINE! by Margaret O. Hyde. I got an A.”

I just did a google search for HOTLINE! as the title means nothing to me now. Margaret O. Hyde has written such books as Mind Drugs and Living with Asthma and Know About Gays and Lesbians, among other possibly useful books for young people.

I found a description for HOTLINE!: “Describes a social service through which people in need of help receive advice and encouragement over the telephone from trained personnel. Includes a chapter on runaways and suggestions for setting up such a service.”

I remember a childhood friend who would call a sex info hotline in San Francisco. It creeped me out that he was so obsessed with sex, particularly homosexual sex. “They told me that a gay guy’s colon will fall out if he has a lot of sex.” Who knows what the hotline actually told him? Anyway, when I spotted him at a gay bar several years later he said, “What are you doing here!” I shrugged. “Dancing,” I said.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Glinda of Oz

From the diary: “March 7, 1981


PS.!! I’m still reading Glinda of Oz!! Okay?!! Yes!!!!”

Glinda of Oz was the last of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, the last of his books period. Glinda was published after Baum’s death. In some ways it’s an early science fiction story. A domed city sinks beneath the surface of a lake to protect it from outsiders. Although the mechanism is activated by magic syllables the setting is more sci-fi than fairy.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Magic of Oz

From the diary: “March 1, 1981

“I read The Magic of Oz today and I’m starting Glinda of Oz.”

The Magic of Oz sends all the "celebrities" of the Emerald City off through the land of Oz to find birthday presents for Ozma. Not a compelling premise. To shake things up a bit the Nome King (who has been banished from his kingdom partly through the goody-good deeds of the goody-good Oz folks) builds a new army to take out his nemeses.

The creepy fate that stuck in my mind in Magic: Trot & Cap'n Bill get trapped on a river island, rooted to the earth. The longer they stay the deeper their own bodies grow roots and their above ground selves shrink away.

At this time I was also writing a story of my own to take to the summer Oz convention.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

blog catalog & ping my blog

Yup, I found another blog directory to submit to: blog catalog

I also did this: ... what that is I'm not sure, actually. Can anybody tell me?

The Tin Woodman of Oz

From the diary: “February 28, 1981

“Friday I stayed home because my cold was a lot worse than Wednesday or Thursday. I read The Tin Woodman of Oz and I started The Magic of Oz today.”

In The Tin Woodman of Oz our friend meets another tin man, this one a soldier, who endured the same fate as the woodman. Because he fell in love with a girl in the charge of a wicked witch the witch enchanted his sword to chop away at his body. The soldier went to the same tinsmith as the woodman. The tinsmith diligently replaced each missing flesh part with tin until the soldier was tin entirely. There are some odd scenes in the book. The Tin Woodman finds his old head in a cupboard in the tinsmith’s workshop. The head sneers at his tin version. Later the woodman and soldier meet the man who was built from their cast off parts. He’s an unpleasant fellow, too. And he’s married to the girl both tin men had loved!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Lost Princess of Oz

From the diary: “February 23, 1981

“I finished Rinkitink in Oz (finally) over the weekend and I am starting The Lost Princess of Oz.”

Other things going on: I tried out for but did not get a part in the school play. I bred fruit flies as part of a biology class experiment. I took an IQ test in order to get into a gifted program. One of the questions, “You have a 9 pint can and a 5 pint can and you need exactly 13 pints, no more and no less. You go down to the stream to get your 13 pints. Hint: fill the 9 pint can first.” Apparently, “This stupid question stumped me during the test but this afternoon I figured it out and I am so mad at myself!” I was, it turned out, of sufficient IQ to get into the program.

Friday, March 11, 2005


I've found another blog directory: Getblogs: The Blog Directory

And, yes, I've submitted the Dare I Read? url.

It seems kind of silly to be posting these blog directories, doesn't it? But then I think, people who visit this blog probably have a blog of their own and maybe they don't know about these blog directories and want to add their blogs to these blog directories, so they get lots of traffic!

Whee! Traffic!

Low spark of high-heeled boys!


Have you ever looked in a literary magazine and seen the list of books "received"? It's always many more than they have space (or staff) to review. Nobody is sending me review copies but I buy books (or pick 'em up free when the library discards) so here's what I bought today:

Only the Lonely, a mini-comic anthology containing work by Josh Frankel, Tom Neely, Joe Sayers, and others, none of whom I know.

Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man by John Porcellino; I think Porcellino is great and have many copies of his King-Cat Comics.

Rinkitink in Oz

From the diary: “February 13, 1981

“I am certainly glad I am keeping [this diary]. Just think; I’ll be reading these words sometime years from now and pondering my thoughts just as I am now pondering the thoughts of that future self of mine way off in the future.”

“February 15, 1981

“Finally got back to reading Rinkitink in Oz.”

globe of blogs

I've submitted info on Dare I Read? to the Globe of Blogs.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


It looks cheesy. And there's this really annoying pop-up that gets in your way when you try to click through to any of the listed sites, but I added Dare I Read? to blogsearchengine.


I've added Dare I Read? to the blogwise database.

The Scarecrow of Oz

From the diary: “January 21, 1981

“I’m still reading The Scarecrow of Oz.”

I see I was reading Baum’s books in order.

In the diary I also describe writing to rare book dealers I found through the Oz Club and getting prices lists for Oz and Baum books that were out of print. I received a copy of the club-published The Forbidden Fountain of Oz, an Oz book by Eloise Jarvis McGraw and her daughter Lauren.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Publish-it-Yourself Handbook

From the diary: “January 12, 1981

The Publish-it-Yourself Handbook is very interesting and I am thinking of self-publishing The Collected Analy Tourguide.”

The Analy Tourguide was a column I wrote for the school newspaper. I’m sure I hadn’t written enough for a book by the time I wrote the above. But I had grand ideas. Then & now!

Here’s an addendum to the above entry: “Late night 11:15pm note: One more depressing addition is that Diana Hennessy checked a Ouija board over the weekend and Amy Johnson is going to die when she’s 18. Also a nuclear explosion will wipe out half the earth’s population within five years and the survivors will take refuge beneath the earth.

“In Oz maybe?”

Amy Johnson, by the way, was at Diana’s 40th birthday party last month.

And before we go, there’s this from January 14, 1981: “The book on self-publishing I got at the library has pretty much fallen out of its binding.”

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A Writer’s Guide to Publishing

From the diary: “January 11, 1981

“I am reading two books now and they are both quite interesting. One is A Writer’s Guide to Publishing, the other is The Publish-it-Yourself Handbook.”

Glenn the careerist. Note that even in high school I was doubtful about getting my work published by established publishers. I still like the idea of having a press of my own. The business of it is what gets most in the way, distributing, billing, publicizing.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Flowers for Algernon

A few days ago I recalled a passage in Flowers for Algernon where “a male resident of the state hospital held another youth on his lap, unself-consciously diddling him.” As I found no mention on the web for this sort of incident in a novel often assigned in high school I began to doubt my memory. Being as I work at the public library it was easy enough to find a copy of Flowers. But how to find the passage? Fortunately amazon has that “search inside” feature now. I wasn’t able to search the specific edition I got from the library and the pagination seems to be very different from the one searchable online but by searching words I thought would appear in the text rarely (“ivory” for instance, as when a doctor fumes about the “ivory tower” of pure research) I was able to home in on the appropriate “lap”. The scene is rather more innocently drawn than my memory had it. The narrator steps into “a recreation room filled with some seventy-five boys sitting around waiting for the lunch bell to be sounded. What caught my eye immediately was one of the bigger boys on a chair in the corner, cradling one of the other boys – fourteen or fifteen years old – cuddling him in his arms. … [T]he dinner bell sounded, and the boys filed into the dining room. I noticed that the big boy who had held the smaller one in his lap was now leading him to the table by the hand.

“‘Quite a thing,’ I said, nodding in that direction.

“Winslow nodded too. ‘Jerry’s the big one, and that’s Dusty. We see that sort of thing often here. When there’s no one else who has time for them, sometimes they know enough to seek human contact and affection from each other.’”

There it is. Fraught, isn’t it?

The younger of the two would be, at 14 or 15, pubertal. The elder? Most definitely. In my small experience with developmentally disabled adults (and stories I’d heard even then) they can be unself-conscious about sex, may even masturbate in public. Sexually mature they become aroused just like those of normal intelligence. Youths in single sex institutions don’t abstain from sex because the other sex isn’t available. Would it be different if the youths were retarded? I don’t think so. Dr Winslow says, “’[T]hey know enough to seek human contact and affection from each other.’” I read between the lines, I suppose.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Tik-Tok of Oz

From the diary: “January 9, 1981

“I’m still reading Tik-Tok of Oz. I’m about halfway through.”

In 1981 all of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books were in print. Several of his non-Oz fantasies were not. The second Trot and Cap’n Bill adventure, Sky Island, was out of print. I’ve only recently read Sky Island. It was, I’ve heard, Baum’s favorite of his books. Tik-Tok of Oz, the book published the year after The Patchwork Girl, has a curious pedigree. After the success of the Broadway extravaganza, The Wizard of Oz, Baum tried to get other books translated to the stage. The third Oz book, Ozma of Oz, made it to the stage as The Tik-Tok Man of Oz. The Tik-Tok Man failed to ignite. Baum readapted the play into an Oz book, Tik-Tok of Oz. The echoes of Ozma of Oz are many and obvious -- from the little girl and her companion animal lost at sea (Dorothy in Ozma but here called Bettsy Bobbin; the hen in Ozma becomes Hank the mule in Tik-Tok, an animal more easily impersonated by an actor) to the journey to the underworld of the Nomes (even the king of the nomes has endured a name change, no longer Roquat he is now called Ruggedo, though he seems to be the same individual). There is also a prominent romance in Tik-Tok, that between the Rose Princess Ozga (she’s somehow a cousin of the Princess Ozma) and Private Files (the only fighting man of the army of Oogaboo). Up to Tik-Tok Baum had not included such an adult element in the Oz series.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Patchwork Girl of Oz

From the diary: "January 4, 1981

"I have been reading The Patchwork Girl of Oz and I'm anxious to get back to it plus I have to go to bed soon so I'm making this short -- okay?"

I'd guess I was trying to read L. Frank Baum's books in order. When the two Trot & Cap'n Bill adventures didn't sell Baum returned to writing Oz books. The Patchwork Girl of Oz was the first of those. He continued the Oz series with one book a year until his death.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Sea Fairies

From the diary: “January 3, 1981

[Yes, this is continuing yesterday’s entry. Still visiting Jean & Lee.] “I listened to records most of the day and read The Sea Fairies.”

The Sea Fairies is a book by L. Frank Baum, author of the Oz books. Baum had tired of writing Oz books and closed off contact with the land of Oz with The Emerald City of Oz. He wrote two fairy books starring the little girl Trot and her old friend Cap’n Bill. The Sea Fairies was the first of these. The book had been out of print for many years. I’d recently discovered the International Wizard of Oz Club and went to the convention at the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite. At the convention they hold an auction of Oz memorabilia and I’d bought my copy of The Sea Fairies there, not a first edition but a later reprint without much value to collectors but good for reading!

In the book Trot and Cap’n Bill visit the world under the sea, accompanied by mermaids, whom Baum terms “sea fairies.” As I recall the book was too often slow going, with our heroes getting the tour, all those wonders that were oh so fascinating – look here, oh, look over there! But not much incident. There was a climactic battle between a bad merman and the king of the sea, or something.

I see The Sea Fairies on the web, minus the illustrations. If you want to read it!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Mouth Sounds

From my diary: “January 3, 1981

“Jean and Lee [old friends of my mother] gave us the new Queen album The Game and a book called Mouth Sounds which is a kind of a weird book.”

As I recall my brother David got custody of the Queen album (I think I only liked “Another One Bites the Dust”). Mouth Sounds was filled with instructions on how to produce goofy sounds with your mouth. I was embarrassed by the gift. It implied that I (we?) made funny sounds with our mouths already, didn’t it? A flexi-vinyl record came bound in the book. Once I got over myself I did try out a few of the instructions. I can still do the cork pop (palm facing out insert finger between pursed lips, cheek taut, flick finger forward, this makes the pop) and the pouring champagne (keeping cheeks taut, whap cheek on the outside with finger, the closer it gets to mouth the higher the sound will rise in pitch, thus mimicking the sound of pouring liquid).

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Yes, I introduced this blog by saying it was my booklog. It isn’t, is it? When I start with my sixth grade diary I gotta admit, it ain’t my booklog. I didn’t start a booklog until 1989. As of 2005 that was 16 years ago. But as of 1981, the diary I was pilfering for my last post, the booklog was 8 years off.

I like to be thorough.

Plus I’m curious myself about what I was reading when I was first trying to document the Glenn life. Or anyway, I’m finding my old diaries readable. Until recently whenever I delved into them I’d cringe. Well. What the heck. I’m warming to the kid.